PIT BROW GIRLS.

All facts on this page have not been verified and cannot be guarenteed to be correct at all. If you follow any links to any site and find false infomation, please contact them about it.

===================================================================================================================

  I guess this page will be a muddle of different things. Just read through it and you might find a bit that is of interest to you. I will highlight any links you can follow. Anyway....good reading.

  The first bit I was told about is about the "Pit Brow Girls". Now I have asked about up here in the northeast and a few people have heard of them but they were not from this area. seemingly they were used around the Yorkshire area.

  What they did was to clean the coal that came up from underground. They took out the stone and shale and any other rubbish from the coal before it went out to the market. Follow the link to see some photo's of them.

   My father in law worked down the pits from the age of 14. He said it was really hard work for men never mind women. Seemingly there was an act called "The coal Mines Regulation Act of 1842" that made it illegal for women and young children to work underground. That seemed to go down badly with the women.    

                                              I would like to thank Adrian for bringing this to my attention.

===================================================================================================================================

HMS Firedrake,                                       

VIRTUTE ARDENS

burning with valor

This ship, or I should say "destroyer was the ship my Nan's brother was on during the last world war. I had the story from my mam about my uncle Ernest who served on this ship. They were all proud of him doing his bit for the country.  Some time ago I decided to do some searching on the web and came across a site all about the ship The site www.hmsfiredrake.co.uk is run by a gentleman called John Masters.  Reading the story about the destroyer and the men onboard her was fantastic. I always admirred the men and women who served or did their part to help our country then. After reading about the firedrake crew this was reafirmed.

 She was sunk on the night of 16th December 1943 in the North Atlantic. Boy what a death she had. Being hit by a torpedo from a german u-boat and then breaking in half and lasting most of the night before the storm started finally sinking her.

 My Nana said a freind of Uncle Ernie said that when the part of the boat he was on was going down, he jumped over the side and that was the last anyone saw of him. I can only guess but the water must of been really cold and a lot of men died with that.

 Please visit the HMS Firedrake site to read the full story.

=====================================================================================================================================

MASON-DIXON line

Have you heard of the "Mason-Dixon line". If you have, have you wondered what it is or where did it get its name from..............Well again it started here in the good old UK.

In 1763 a dispute over two states in America was happening so Mason and Dixon got the job to sort it out. Unfortunatly I cannot write about it because someone else has. So if you follow the link you will be taken to the site that has done the hard work.

 And that link is here........................   http://www.citiesofscience.co.uk/go/NorthEast/ContentPeople_2977.html 

===============================================================================================================

Rapper Sword Dancing

I was talking to an older gentleman a few weks ago, he came from down south and was visiting. Anyway he asked me if I had heard of "Rapper Sword Dancing". I thought he was on about the modern music sound. Anyway seems it is dancing that goes a long way back to the pit villages of Northumbria and the Tyne Valley, around 1700 mark.

 As I looked all around the net I discovered lots of different theories as to where and how it came to be. It is sometimes called "Hilt and Point sword dancing" and is found in various forms all over Europe. There are forms of it danced in Germany and Austria, with local variations to the dance.

 I just want to talk about the Northern version of the dance. It is reported that the earliest article that talks about the rapper dance was in 1715 and in that it descibed it as resembling the Yorkshire and Continental way of the dance.

 The Rapper Dance in the north seemed to be acted out during winter months. The show started by performing a short play, in it there were historical characters, mock executions and so called doctors who would bring the dead back to life. All was to resemble death and birth.

 Moving fast forward into the 1800s and the dance was still going but a change of sword had came about. Because miners were very poor and very little money to buy tools, it is sugested that old saw blades from the mines could of been used to make the flexable swords that were being used by this time. Worn out saw blades would have the teeth filed down.

 As the rapper sword changed its design from a rigid sword to a more flexable one the dance started to get more complex and became different to the dances of the Longswords. Over the coming century there is very little or no writing coming to light about the continuance of the dance. The dance is linked to the coalmining comunity though.

 By the time of the end of the first decade of the 20th century the rapper dance was starting to move into decline. The dance was part of the comunity and like all the other past times, things like Pigeon racing, Leek growing and Football. Villages were in constant competition with each other. As the decade came to a close a collector of traditional song and dances came along to the north. His name was Cecil Sharp. Making notes of the diferrent dances, he made his own book, "The sword Dances of Northern England".

 He made an effort to keep the dance alive by starting up competitions and holding workshops to teach Rapper Dancing around the country. As time moved forward and up to the last world war, the dance took a back seat. After the war competitions started up again.

 In 1949 at Kings College in Newcastle, which was then part of Durham University, there was a Professor called Bill Cassie. He persuaded some of his students to learn how to do the dance and use it during the "Rag Week" where students try to make money for the charities. For a while the continued to perform the dance and called themselves "Newcastle Kingmen".

 As these members graduated and moved away they took the dance with them to different parts of the country. Competitions started up again and were held in Darlington and Whitby. The dance moved south a little way to Derby. In the 80s a tournament started up called "Dancing England Rapper Tournament", also known as "DERT".

 Up through the 90s the dance seemed to move and started to really grow. Teams are found in Scotland, Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand. In 1999 a team made up of women only won the "DERT". Though womens teams were frowned on in the early 1900s there are mixed teams in Tyneside since early 1950s.

 Some sites to visit and watch the dancing yourself============

http://www.dur.ac.uk/folk.soc/rapper.htm

http://www.kingsmen.co.uk/

http://www.rapper.org.uk/